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Football: Becks has to prove he is for Real.

Byline: ED CASEY

DAVID BECKHAM could be forgiven if he shows signs of feeling the heat amid all the hype surrounding his debut for Real Madrid in Beijing today.

It is mid-summer in the Chinese capital and guaranteed to be sauna hot.

So unless Becks is really on the ball, he could struggle against Chinese Dragon XI in the friendly.

The midfielder needs to get off to a flyer in order to disarm the cynics, like former Spain coach Javier Clemente, who believes buying Beckham was a "mistake" and that he could prove a disruptive influence.

Clemente, who now manages Espanyol of Barcelona, said: "I think the decision to buy Beckham is a mistake as he is very expensive and Real Madrid don't need him as they already have Figo.

"He is a very good player but he has a lot of other things going on in his life and these could cause problems."

Beckham, 28, quit Manchester United during the summer and opted for Madrid because he is convinced it will improve him as a player.

Madrid, in turn, hope it will raise their profile even further and, on their tour of the Far East, they have been stunned by his popularity.

So far it has been a vast untapped market for the club and one they are convinced they can exploit.

But Beckham has to justify his Pounds 28million price tag, not least because Clemente reckons the dependency on foreigners is having a detrimental effect on the Spanish game.

The coach added: "The league is very strong but you need to look at how many foreign players there are.

"Look at Real Madrid - Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo, Makelele. There's a lot of money in Spanish football which is very important to its success."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 2, 2003
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